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The 2002 Westminster Dog Show

Listen to Ketzel talk about the Westminster Dog Show How do you get her back in the garden after she's seen Westminster? Ketzel talks with Bob Edwards on Day 1 of the unrivaled four-legged beauty pageant of the year.

I'll bet you thought the most coveted assignment this week was a certain winter event in Salt Lake City. Forget it. For me, the Westminster Dog Show is no less than a legal high. No sooner do I recover my balance after seeing an Irish wolfhound cross W.32nd St., when a 13-inch beagle gives me a long-lashed look that melts me like swiss on rye.

Now don't get me wrong. I am no breed snob (just a little too fond of hounds). If 2,500 mutts were at Madison Square Garden, I'd be just as over the moon. But if you'll allow me to put politics aside -- in this case, the assumption that breeds are superior and therefore more desirable, an idea I reject -- I would like to introduce you to a few of the stun-o-rama dogs and their human companions making the rounds at Westminster today.

Staisha and Reebo
Staisha and Reebok
From New Castle, Indiana, introducing the four-year-old Reebok, an irresistibly sweet Australian shepherd shown here with his chaperone, Staisha Vaught. I walked past this dog with just a glance and was suddenly sucked in by his magnetism. No joke, he is that electric.

Little Red the American Foxhound and Dennis Pincheck
Little Red the American Foxhound and Dennis Pincheck
Just in from their jaunt around the city, here's Little Red the American foxhound and Dennis Pincheck from the Cape Canaveral, Florida area. Dennis is an owner/handler which means that instead of hiring a handler, he'll show Little Red in the ring, himself. Westminster, he says, "is a complete escape from reality." He's not too fussed about winning.

Anthony Rizza not in  cage) than his two Italian Greyhounds, Lana and Mia
Anthony Rizza (not in cage) and his two Italian greyhounds, Lana (L) and Mia (R).
Admittedly, it's a lot easier in this pix to see Anthony Rizza (not in cage) than his two Italian greyhounds (caged, in leopard jackets). On the left is Lana, on the right, Mia, who has lent her name (however unwillingly) to a line of "distinctive companion wear." Don't believe me? See for yourself:

Carol Burke and her top-ranked Bernese Mountain Dog, Billy
Carol Burke and her top-ranked Bernese mountain dog, Billy
While we're on apparel, Carol Burke, what's with the fur coat? (Let the record note, the interviewer was appalled but polite). This otherwise likeable woman from San Francisco is here to "kick Berner butt" with 2001's #1 Bernese mountain dog in the country, Billy. Make no mistake, she's not here for the parties (of which there are oh so many). Keep an eye on Billy for Best of Breed.

Barcelona and Kim Fritter
Barcelona and Kim Fritter
Last but hardly least, Mr. top male greyhound in the country: Barcelona. It was hard to keep my hands off him, he was so soft to the touch (steady, girl). "I walk out of the ring with the same dog I walk in with," says his adoring human, Kim Fritter. "I don't need a ribbon to change my opinion about my dog". The two have traveled to Westminster from Grand Junction, Colorado, and will go home -- with or without Best In Show -- as smitten with one another as when they arrived.

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Copyright © 2003 National Public Radio, Washington, D.C.